Before and After (1996) Review

Carolyn and Ben Ryan must deal with the worst situation when their teenage son Jacob is accused of murdering a girl who they later find out he had been seeing, attempting to keep everything together especially for their young daughter Judith.


Before and After looks into how a tough situation can take its toll on a whole family as after the murdered girl is found, Jacob goes missing. Although the car is back at the house he is gone and they cannot find him anywhere. Ben wants nothing more than to protect his son and it does not look good when blood is in the boot of the car and a glove covered as well. Not wanting to believe their son could do anything bad Ben destroys the evidence and Carolyn enters into full denial. As Judith is around everything it seems as though she knows a little bit more than she had been letting on.

Every now and then they would receive a postcard from a different state and then going onto different countries and not telling the police about it, as the time passes and the police cannot find any trace of him it does not look good at all. Wendell Bye is a close family friend and also a lawyer who had been advising them on what to do. When Jacob is found it turned out he never even left the area, for this Wendell recommends Panos Demeris to become his lawyer for the case and possible trial.

On his return Jacob will not speak at all. It creates very good and interesting tension and really has you as a viewer wanting to know what happened between Jacob and the girl and if he had actually been near her. I will not spoil the reveal but it certainly was not what I expected at all. But it also raises the question on what parents would do to fight for freedom for their kids. Also about how far you would go to lie and if you could actually do that to try and save yourself. So it does offer some interesting thinking points around life and justice systems.

Its by no means a great film but it is decent enough with Meryl Streep and Liam Neeson taking on the leading roles they work very well together and I throughly enjoyed watching them as husband and wife. Edward Furlong puts in a good performance as Jacob, not an easy role as he must go through so many emotions and the scenes where he did not speak must have been very difficult to keep the intensity high. Julia Weldon was great as Judith, at such a young acting it was an inspiring performance.

Something I did notice was that the score was just outstanding throughout the film and that made perfect sense when I found out that Howard Shore did it! I mean it is certainly something I can getting better at recognising when watching films, especially when they are done in this manner of adding to each and every scene.

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